Summoning Parliament: Turnbull’s Timing And The Historical Experience

Is Malcolm Turnbull taking longer than previous prime ministers to bring the Parliament back after the election?

Several times during the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard commentators and journalists suggest that Turnbull is dragging the chain on getting the parliament back in session. They seem to suggest that nothing is happening unless the parliament is sitting. It’s a seductive notion for those who deal in the theatre of parliament and the drama of set-piece occasions such as Question Time.

Of course, it’s a nonsensical argument. At any point in time, the parliament is likely not to be sitting. On average, it sits for around 70-80 days a year, in about 20 weeks of the year. For the rest of the time, the business of government is carried on by the executive and the public service.

Nevertheless, it set me wondering about the times parliament sits following an election. The table below shows the dates for the past 115 years, covering all 45 elections since 1901. [Read more…]


Philip Ruddock (Lib-Berowra) – Valedictory Speech

Philip Ruddock has given his valedictory speech to the House of Representatives, ending a parliamentary career of 42 years and 7 months.

Ruddock

Ruddock, the Liberal member for Berowra, in New South Wales, was first elected as the member for Parramatta at a by-election on September 22, 1973. He was the member for Dundas from 1977 until 1993. After his first election win, he has been elected to 16 parliamentary terms.

Ruddock was Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs in the Howard government from 1996 until 2003. He was Attorney-General from 2003 until the Howard government lost office in 2007. [Read more…]


Parliament Prorogued; New Session Starts On Monday

The Australian Parliament was prorogued at 5pm today.

The prorogation was authorised by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, on March 21, on the advice of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The prorogation takes place under Section 5 of the Constitution. The prorogation documents are shown below.

A new session of Parliament will now start on Monday, April 18, at 9.30am. It will be opened by the Governor-General.

The prorogation means that the Notice Paper in each house has been wiped clean. All business listed on the Notice Paper has been terminated, although the Senate’s Standing Orders allow for the work of committees to continue.

The Parliament has been prorogued one minute before dissolution at each election since 1993, a practice that had not been followed since the 1920s. The last prorogation for a reason other than an election was in 1977, when it was used to enable the Queen to open Parliament.

The Turnbull government has released a programme of business for the Senate to consider from Monday. It includes the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 [No.2], the Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 [No.2] and the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill 2014 [No.3]. The draft programme is shown below. [Read more…]


Current Federal Parliamentary Leaders

Each political party represented in the Federal Parliament elects leaders in each house.

Just as the government is decided in the House of Representatives, so the parties elect their leaders and deputy leaders from amongst their representatives in the House. If the party is not represented in the lower house, its leader will be chosen from amongst its members in the Senate.

These tables are correct as of September 21, 2015. They take account of the change of prime minister on September 15 and consequent changes. [Read more…]


Quiz: Parliament

Parliament

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Question 1
How does the Australian Constitution define "Parliament"?
A
Prime Minister, Government and Opposition
B
House of Representatives and Senate
C
Queen, House of Representatives and Senate
D
Governor-General, House of Representatives and Senate
Question 1 Explanation: 
Section 1 of the Australian Constitution defines the Parliament as consisting of "the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives".

The Queen, or her representative, the Governor-General is considered part of the Parliament because royal assent is required for all legislation passed by the two houses. In practice, this assent is always given because the Queen and the Governor-General act on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Question 2
How many members are there in the House of Representatives?
A
76
B
96
C
125
D
150
Question 2 Explanation: 
There are currently 150 members of the House of Representatives.
Question 3
How many members of the House of Representatives were there following the first federal election of 1901?
A
50
B
75
C
100
D
125
Question 3 Explanation: 
There were 75 members of the first House of Representatives.

In 1949, the House was increased in size to 121 members. In 1984, it was increased to 148.
Question 4
How many members of the Senate are there?
A
36
B
60
C
72
D
76
Question 4 Explanation: 
There are currently 76 senators.

Each state has 12 senators (6x12=72) and each territory has 2 senators (2x2=4)
Question 5
How many members of the Senate were there in 1901?
A
18
B
24
C
30
D
36
Question 5 Explanation: 
There were 36 senators in 1901. Each state was represented by 6 senators.
Question 6
The presiding officer of the House of Representatives is known as what?
A
The President
B
The Prime Minister
C
The Speaker
D
The Governor-General
Question 7
The presiding officer of the Senate is known as what?
A
Black Rod
B
The President
C
The Speaker
D
The Leader of the Government
Question 7 Explanation: 
The President is the presiding officer of the Senate. He or she is a Senator who has been elected by the Senate.
Question 8
How long are the terms of the House of Representatives?
A
2 years
B
3 years
C
4 years
D
5 years
Question 8 Explanation: 
Section 1 of the Constitution stipulates that the House of Representatives is elected for three years.

The term dates from the first meeting of the House following an election.
Question 9
Which statement best describes the terms of territory senators, those elected in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory?
A
Territory senators serve a term concurrent with the parliament in their territory.
B
Territory senators serve a term concurrent with the House of Representatives, to a maximum of three years.
C
Territory senators serve fixed six-year terms, with half facing election every three years.
D
Territory senators serve fixed three-year terms, with all senators facing the electorate every three years.
Question 9 Explanation: 
Territory senators are elected at every House of Representatives election. Their term is concurrent with the House, to a maximum of three years.

Senators from the states are elected for fixed six-year terms, with half being chosen every three years.
Question 10
What happens when a member of the House of Representatives dies or resigns?
A
Their party nominates a person to take their place until the next general election takes place.
B
The Governor-General nominates a person to take their place until the next general election takes place.
C
The relevant State Parliament nominates a person to take their place until the next general election takes place.
D
A by-election is held, in which the people elect a replacement to represent the seat until the next general election takes places.
Question 10 Explanation: 
A by-election takes place. Members of the House who die or resign are always replaced by a new member elected by the voters in the relevant electorate.

If the vacancy occurs close to the scheduled election, a by-election may not necessarily take place.
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Senate President Announces Decision On Covered Visitors To Parliament House

The President of the Senate, Senator Stephen Parry, has announced that visitors who do not wish to be identified when visiting Parliament will be required to sit in the public galleries enclosed in glass that are normally reserved for school groups.

Parry announced the decision in response to a question from the Opposition’s Senate leader, Penny Wong. He said the decision was an interim measure, pending further advice from specialist agencies.

Visitors who cannot be clearly identified will be asked to be identified and to produce identification. They will then be free to move around the building but will be required to sit in the glassed enclosures in order to view parliamentary proceedings. [Read more…]


Abbott Says Federal Police Now Handling External And Internal Security At Parliament House

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that the Australian Federal Police have taken over responsibility for the external and internal security at Parliament House.

Abbott reiterated his previous remarks on terrorism but little information on yesterday’s terrorism raids and arrests was forthcoming at his joint press conference today.

Abbott

Abbott was accompanied by the NSW Premier, Mike Baird, Acting Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Andrew Colvin, and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione. They refused to say how many people were still under arrest and would not comment on whether any of those detained were involved in plans to attack Parliament House. [Read more…]